New York - As More Students Come Forward Allegations Continue That Yeshiva University Covered Up Abuse Scandal
New York - Following an explosive article in last weekâ€™s Forward newspaper alleging sexual misconduct on the part of two Yeshiva University staff members, an additional 14 men have gone on record saying they, too, were abused by Rabbi George Finkelstein between the years 1968 and 1995 at Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Manhattan (http://bit.ly/UQPF4e).
The stories of abuse detailed by these former victims reveal that not only were the higher-ups at YU and Rabbinical Council of America officials aware of the numerous allegations against Finkelstein, but they aided in covering up the accusations since the mid-1980s. In fact, when Finkelsteinâ€™s most recent employer, the Jerusalem Great Synagogue asked YU if the allegations against Finkelstein were true, YU told the synagogue there was no cause for concern.
Jerusalem Great Synagogueâ€™s general director, Zev Lanton, said former synagogue president Maurice Wohl â€śspoke to the responsible authorities at YU, who denied the charges outright. Later, the same authority, upon visiting Israel, offered similar denials, both to the chairman of the board of the synagogue and the vice president.â€ť Mr. Lanton declined to immediately disclose the identity of this YU authority. Finkelstein resigned immediately from his 11-year-post as executive director at the synagogue when the Forward story was published.
Rabbi Macy Gordon, who also had sexual abuse charges lobbed against him during his tenure as a Talmud teacher from 1956 to 1984, has been put on a â€śleave of absenceâ€ť from the Orthodox Unionâ€™s Israel Center where he is employed as a teacher.
Finkelstein was never questioned about the allegations during his 27 years at YU High School, and he went on to serve six years as the principal at the Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School in North Miami Beach, Florida.
The Forward attempted to determine if any complaints had been made against Finkelstein during his tenure at the Florida school, but chief operating officer Rafael Quintero was â€śextremely busyâ€ť and did not comment. The Jerusalem Great Synagogue was notified four years ago that Finkelstein â€śhad been summoned to [Israeli] police following a complaint reiterating [an abuse allegation].â€ť
â€śRabbi Finkelstein informed the executive board that in his interview with the police, he insisted that he be submitted to a polygraph test on the spot,â€ť according to Mr. Lanton. â€śThe police responded that this would not be necessary. No further action was taken by the police.â€ť
Current YU President Richard Joel declined repeated requests for an interview with the Forward. In another statement issued yesterday, YU said it â€ścontinues to examine with concern the allegations of past abuse recently reported in the media. A subcommittee of the Board of Trustees is working with the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell as outside Counsel, who is assisting us in investigating the allegations and consulting with nationally recognized specialists in this area to review our policies and procedures.â€ť
RCA President Shmuel Goldin praised Joel for â€śhis forthright response and statement of concern.â€ť He added, â€śWhen you compare this community to others, at least what you are getting is an immediate expression that we are going to deal with this, not that we are going to sweep this under the rug. Our position is, individuals who are aware of such allegations should go directly to the authoritiesâ€¦And anything short of that does not satisfy that position.â€ť
But Goldin cautioned that Finkelstein and Gordon â€śdeserve to have a fair hearing on these allegations,â€ť saying, â€śNobody should be tried on the pages of a newspaper.â€ť
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